Your new online business idea is burning a hole in you and you’ve decided to take the plunge and make it a reality. This can be the best decision of your life or the most time consuming, financial resource disaster you can imagine. Make sure you mitigate your chances of failure by preparing in advance for success.
You first need to ask yourself some important questions and answer them honestly.
• Do I have the time to devote myself fully to the success I’m hoping for?
• Have I put together a business plan or at least structured my online presence on paper?
• How much money are you prepared to invest in this business? A good web designer is worth every cent you pay them and will likely give more effort than they get paid for. It’s the nature of the website designing beast. But the good ones cost money and you’ll need to pay for their top performance.
• How are you planning to advertise your online business? You’ll need eyes on your products and/ or services and with 100’s of millions of web pages out there how will they find you?
• Have you honestly asked yourself who will buy what you have to sell? Who is your target market?
• Are you prepared to tackle the intensive learning curve of Internet marketing and business website ownership?
I will assume you’ve answered these questions in the affirmative and you are ready to jump in feet first …straight into the deep end.
What type of website will you need?
Based on your budget and assuming you’ve done your research you should know what a good website developer will charge you for a completed website or at least an estimate of hours to complete it. Will you need a shopping cart for your website for selling online? Are you just going to be promoting your offline services via the Internet?
There are two main types of websites that are most prevalent online today and they are brochure ware sites and interactive/dynamic websites. Make sure whoever you hire as your website developer understands the latter type, since the former will be simple for them. Which of these two types of website designs will work for you?
Also understand that moving forward with your online business your website will need to be maintained by someone. If your website designer also operates as a website maintenance company they will take care of your long term website maintenance needs or refer you to someone who can do this for you. Now let’s not get confused here.
Website maintenance companies can build a web structure or platform, add new applications and all the bells and whistles for you, even posting your new content for you, but someone needs to keep your overall website content fresh and unique. It’s a rare website designer who will understand your business enough to be able to write your page content for you.
Website developers can’t be all things to all people and every business is different in some respect. You’ll need to provide your website designer with page content as it relates to your business and your online objectives so they can post it live for you. You should ask your website developer about a CMS or Content Management System being a part of your overall website design.
CMS’s were designed to provide a relative novice Internet entrepreneur with a means of updating their online content themselves. These are generally something as simple as an online editor component built into your website system much like MS Word. It allows you to do basic maintenance to your web pages, loading new text copy, graphics and even multi media like photo slideshows, video and audio clips in some cases. Some CMS’s will let you modify your design template or logo/ header to keep your design fresh.
When shopping for a website, speak to a number of website design companies, specifically those that seem professional in their online demeanor. After all, their website design should make an impression on you. Ask to speak to several of their clients and don’t be afraid to ask the web designers ANY questions you have. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.
Website maintenance companies you contact should be patient with you and tolerant of your website design naiveté. They should discuss your budget with you and deliver the most value for your financial situation. You should be looking at developing a relationship with your website developer so decide if the company you are considering is going to be a good fit.
It would behoove you to understand how hosting your website works. Your website designer should look after all these hosting details for you but you should also know what you’re paying for. Does your web developer have their own dedicated server? How well is the server maintained? Will there be any website downtime based on their inability to maintain the server themselves? Be sure that your website developer answers these questions confidently and explains them to you.
Finally, be careful about the “Seven dollar per month websites” you can build yourself in an hour. No doubt these websites will give you an online presence but what will you sacrifice in functionality and design and at what cost to your overall business? Your reputation is everything in business and on the Internet your website DEFINES your reputation. The adage “you get what you pay for” was apparently meant for website design.
Hiring a professional website developer to create a spectacular online business portal for your company is probably the best investment you’ll make. Your innovative Internet venture will now be taken seriously. You’ll be able to focus on growing your online business and have the confidence to leave the technical part of your business in the capable hands of your professional website designer.